Case closed. The trial was held under summary judgment and won’t probably be appealed: Soter Mulè from Rome was sentenced to four years and eight months of prison for involuntary manslaughter of a young woman and causing lesions and a coma to another during a September 2011 bondage session went wrong. The aggravation was the so-called ‘conscious negligence’, the awareness that an accident was possible.
I wouldn’t dwell on this if it was any other disaster, good for archiving it among any given day’s many crime news. In this case, however, I cannot avoid reflecting on what happened – for the little I can, at least.
In fact to this day nobody actually knows the details of what actually happened, for which we’ll have to wait for the acts of the trial. Even though the Italian and international BDSM communities wildly discussed and judged the episode since day one, there are precious few certain information about it.
What we know is that the three involved persons were worn out by the hours and the substances (alcohol and weed) they took earlier. That the victim was much heavier than the rigger, making her unconscious body hard to control. That the basic safety measures endlessly repeated to every bondage beginner – like keeping a rope-cutting tool close and never leaving a bound person unattended – were not taken. But mostly that Mulè wasn’t a beginner at all: he surely wasn’t a ‘grand master’ as the early news reported, yet he was an experienced amateur who had taken a few rope seminars.
With this knowledge it is easy to see the unpleasant lesson in such event. BDSM is also called ‘extreme eroticism’ for a reason: because it isn’t ordinary at all, nor for everyone. Just like any other extreme activity it requires study, preparation and presence of mind to be safely confronted. The specialized websites, the videos and sheer luck may induce thinking that these games can be improvised carefree, but some risk is always there.
The laws of physics, of medicine and of old good sense don’t pause just because you are aroused or we are dealing with sexuality – especially when bondage is involved.
Restraints games are second only to breath control in their danger. There are so many technical notions and factors to control that even under ideal conditions internationally-renowned experts can have accidents. Trying bondage in the conditions described by the news was to invite a catastrophe.
Condemning the practice in itself is pointless, but I feel it would be healthy to have an examination of conscience and ask if each of us really made own of all those habits, those notions, those personal rules which allow to have fun while reducing the risks to their minimum.
There are those who find boring to give energy and time to these things: following their hormones is more exciting and «nothing bad happens anyway». Until it does. It is the kind of reasoning of a jinxy old lady, but no less true for that.
Visiting Rome I had happened to briefly meet both protagonists of this story. I can’t say I knew them well, but my memory of them is of two serene persons, happy to be able to realize their erotic fantasies.
Amidst the sorrow, I confess that the one thing that saddens me the most is knowing that a slightly more mature approach would have sufficed for them to be happy today still.